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  1. #1
    japanjapan is offline Member
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    Default What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    Dear teachers,
    I know the word " awesome " has a slang meaning, it means "great, very good", but I am not sure whether there are exeptions.
    e.g. The weather is awesome!
    Does it mean the weather is very good or very bad?
    e.g. awesome food!
    Does it mean the food is very good or very bad?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    With both, I'd suppose it meant great.

  3. #3
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan
    Dear teachers,
    I know the word " awesome " has a slang meaning, it means "great, very good", but I am not sure whether there are exeptions.
    e.g. The weather is awesome!
    Does it mean the weather is very good or very bad?
    e.g. awesome food!
    Does it mean the food is very good or very bad?

    Thanks.
    The word "awesome" has changed dramatically in meaning from its origin to today. It started out meaning "inspiring fear or awe". Now it mostly means "great", "amazing", "wonderful".

  4. #4
    Kerry100 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    Awesome was created in 1598 England, meaning something that inspires "Awe" (feeling of reverance/amazement... alternatively also meant fear which is less used). Awe + Some connected.

    Its "Early modern English" - around the same period as Shakespeare and the King James Bible.
    Last edited by Kerry100; 25-Jun-2009 at 08:44.

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    My current opinion about the usage of 'awesome' as a slang meaning 'great' or 'wonderful' is summarized by:
    1) Such usage is relatively new, maybe it has begun in the 90's.
    2) The expression 'awesome' with that meaning is mostly used in the AmE, rather than in BrE.

    For instance, some months ago I read in a web site:
    'Every generation has its slang expression for "great, fine," indeed, "great" is one of them. Originally meaning "large," today it is used most widely to mean "very good." "She is tops," was the expression in the 30s, following "the cat's meow," "the cat's pajamas," and "top drawer" in the 20s. "Swell" replaced "tops" in the 40s and "cool" and "hip" took their turns in the 50s. "Groovy" was the word in the hippy 60s, followed by "far out," in the 70s, "awesome" in the 90s and, now, "phat." Saying that something is "very good" seems not to appeal to anyone under 30.'
    (from Superman Homepage - Other Miscellaneous Superman Stuff)

    This weekend I have just read the following passage from a British book written in 1974:
    "As they steeled themselves for the awesome sight of some of the highest mountains in the world, the steward, Ramírez, suddenly came out of the pilot's cabin and announced over a loudspeaker that weather conditions made it impossible to cross the cordillera." (Alive, by P. P. Read)

    So I guess that in the passage above 'awesome' has its original meaning, rather than the slang idea of 'wonderful' or 'great'. I only think this way because the author is an Englishman and the book was written in the 70's, otherwise I would interpret 'awesome' as something great, marvelous or "cool".

    To conclude, I ask:
    - Is my current opinion about the word 'awesome' usage correct?
    - Is my interpretation of the meaning of 'awesome' in the book passage above correct?

  6. #6
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    If you are using the word awesome to mean good, I, for example, like a good thunderstorm or even in Canada a good snowstorm. The weather would not be what you'd consider good, but I think it's awesome!

    I am not a teacher.

  7. #7
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    This weekend I have just read the following passage from a British book written in 1974:
    "As they steeled themselves for the awesome sight of some of the highest mountains in the world, the steward, Ramírez, suddenly came out of the pilot's cabin and announced over a loudspeaker that weather conditions made it impossible to cross the cordillera." (Alive, by P. P. Read)

    So I guess that in the passage above 'awesome' has its original meaning, rather than the slang idea of 'wonderful' or 'great'. I only think this way because the author is an Englishman and the book was written in the 70's, otherwise I would interpret 'awesome' as something great, marvelous or "cool".

    To conclude, I ask:
    - Is my current opinion about the word 'awesome' usage correct?
    - Is my interpretation of the meaning of 'awesome' in the book passage above correct?
    Continuing reading the book, I have found the following passage:
    "The cousins gave the expeditionaries some breakfast before they sent them on their way. The others watched in silence. No words could express what they felt at this awesome moment; they all knew that this was their last chance of survival." (Alive, 1974, by P. P. Read)

    What does awesome mean above? I think it does not mean "cool" or "great", but perhaps "wonderful" or "marvelous".

  8. #8
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: What's the meaning of the word "awesome"?

    One last passage from the same book:

    "They were admired and feted not just as heroes who had endured and triumphed over the awesome Andes which loom forbiddingly along the the entire length of Chile ... " (Alive, P. P. Read)

    Again I think here awesome has its original meaning rather than standing for "great" or "cool". Any opinions about it?

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